The human body is an amazing machine that is capable of adapting to a variety of extreme environments. From a physiological perspective, heat stress has the potential to develop into a life threatening condition rapidly if you fail to adjust your training program. It is far safer to progress slowly as summer temperatures rise and prevent heat related illnesses than having to recover from one. Try incorporating the following tips into your training strategy to prepare for training in the heat.
Avoid training between 10AM and 4PM outside
The majority of heat related illnesses occur during these hours. Training in the direct sunlight can also increase the temperature by 15-20 degrees or more. Your body is simply incapable of sustaining high intensity under these conditions. Time your training/movement around these hours. One of our favorite tactics in the desert is to do a dawn patrol, starting by headlamp and trying to finish by 10am.
Avoid training when temperature is above 90F and 60% humidity
Increases in humidity negatively affect the bodies’ ability to cool itself through perspiration. When the humidity levels exceed 60%, sweat evaporates at a slower rate causing the body to retain heat.
Take the time to acclimatize
Acclimatization is vitally important when training in environments hotter than you are accustomed to. Allow at least 10-14 days to acclimate to increased heat and exertion levels. Studies have shown that bodies adapting gradually to elevated heat and training intensity can dramatically lower electrolyte loss through sweat and becoming more efficient at managing internal hydration levels.
Lower your intensity
Decrease intensity when training, especially during the acclimatization period. Hydration losses can greatly exceed the bodies’ ability to absorb water. Lowering intensity decreases these losses and can help prevent heat related illnesses.
Wear the right clothing for training in the heat
Wear light weight, light colored and loose fitting clothing. If your training brings you near a water source, SOAK your clothes and body to shed heat and speed the evaporative cooling process.
Training in the heat is possible if you are willing to make some modifications to your normal training routine. Prevention of heat illness should take priority over intensity of training during these times. I strongly encourage you to apply these simple guidelines to your training in hot environments. It can mean the difference between recovering at home or in the emergency room. Be safe out there this summer.
Related Article: Signs Of Heat Illness